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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

49ers at Rams player grades: Jimmy Garoppolo shines in the clutch again

Rohan Chakravarthi
Jan 9, 2022 at 7:00 PM--

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What an exhilarating game. I'm still amazed at what was probably the game of the year. The 49ers defeated the Los Angeles Rams 27-24 after forcing a 3-and-out with under two minutes to play, scoring a touchdown to force overtime, kicking a field goal to take the lead in OT, and Ambry Thomas intercepting Matthew Stafford to end the game.

This was the story of two halves, as the 49ers seemed outmatched early in this game, with the Rams scoring 17 early points and the 49ers struggling to generate offense en route to just three 1st half points.

But, Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan came out for the second half with a mission, scoring two touchdowns to tie the game at 17, the second coming with a creative Deebo Samuel touchdown pass to Jauan Jennings. In addition, the 49ers were suffocating on defense in the 2nd half, holding the Rams to just one drive over 15 yards and holding the powerful Los Angeles offense to just 24 points.

With so many amazing performances, let's get into the player grades for today's game:

Jimmy Garoppolo: B

Jimmy Garoppolo gave us the Jimmy Garoppolo experience this game. And I couldn't love it more.

He had a middling first half in which he occasionally looked afraid to throw the football. In fact, this looked very much like last week's start to the game from the offense.

However, Garoppolo picked up steam on the last drive of the half, delivering some key passes to get the 49ers within two scores going into the half.

He followed that with two straight touchdown drives to start the third quarter, courtesy of the brilliance of Kyle Shanahan, and most importantly of all, came through in the clutch like he's done multiple times before.

After a dominant defensive drive leading to a Rams punt with under two minutes left, Garoppolo threw multiple timely passes that led to a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jauan Jennings with under 30 seconds left.

He continued his performance in overtime with a field goal drive, ending his day 23 of 32 for 316 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.

Now, the two interceptions weren't pretty and there were a few misses, but Garoppolo deserves a ton of praise for his toughness in playing through a torn UCL and avulsion fracture in his thumb, and delivering when the 49ers needed him to get the team in the playoffs. B performance to me.

Running Backs: A-

This was not going to be a pretty day for the 49ers running backs. Especially when we heard that Trent Williams, perhaps the best run blocking tackle in football, was out with an elbow sprain and was going to be replaced by Colton McKivitz, who hadn't played a snap at left tackle in his career.

But, the running back group persevered through a poor first half en route to 31 total carries for 135 yards and a touchdown. Elijah Mitchell had a better performance than in Week 10, rushing 21 times for 85 yards, while Deebo Samuel added a touchdown on the ground.

They're the backbone of this 49ers offense and were dominant in the 2nd half. They'll need to be next week against a Cowboys team who is 24th in the NFL in yards allowed per carry.

It'll also be interesting to monitor Jeff Wilson Jr., who hasn't been a factor for two straight weeks and has taken a backseat in the running and passing game to JaMycal Hasty.

Wide Receivers: A

Not one, not two, but THREE 90+ yard performances came from 49er wide receivers on Sunday.

Brandon Aiyuk led the team with 107 yards off six catches, followed by Deebo Samuel's four-catch, 95-yard performance, and Jauan Jennings's six-catch, 94-yard, and two touchdown performance.

All three receivers were vital in certain situations, as Brandon Aiyuk was huge when San Francisco was getting back in the game, Deebo Samuel muscled through tackles, and Jauan Jennings was extremely dependable on 3rd downs.

The receiver room peaked at the best time, as all three complemented each other at the best level they've done all season, which will be vital against a high-powered Dallas defense next weekend. Great performances from San Francisco's top three receivers.

Tight Ends: C

To be honest, this performance was expected from the tight end unit, as George Kittle and Co. were likely to help with blocking assignments given the short-handedness of the offensive line.

Kittle ended with five catches for just ten yards, but contributed as a blocker to limit the pressure on Jimmy Garoppolo, who operated well on Sunday when given a clean pocket.

A good sign? Kittle was still targeted seven times, which was tied for highest on the team.

If Trent Williams returns next week, expect Kittle to be more active against the Dallas Cowboys, either as a decoy or as an actual receiving weapon.

Offensive Line: B+

This unit played phenomenal for the most of the game, given the expectations after Trent Williams was ruled inactive.

Colton McKivitz, who hadn't played a snap at left tackle in his NFL career, held up solidly in pass protection, giving up only one sack, despite going up against Von Miller.

The run-blocking was great in the 2nd half, when the 49ers had an offensive resurgence, and played well when it mattered most.

After struggles from the right side of the line in the first half, the undermanned unit stepped it up in the 2nd half and didn't cost this team the football game, even though Aaron Donald and Co. were lining up on the opposite side. Good work by the unit overall.

Defense: A

I'm going to group the defense together because they were wonderful today for the most part, and were the main reason that San Francisco won this football game, which was a key from me for this game.

While they allowed points on LA's first three drives, the 49ers made it tough for the Rams and showcased their physicality. If it wasn't for an untimely Dre Greenlaw penalty, the 49ers wouldn't have been as vulnerable defensively early on.

But, in the 2nd half, San Francisco suffocated Matthew Stafford and Co., holding them to just one drive of 15+ yards and sacking Stafford five times overall, dominating the trenches, which was a must if San Francisco wanted to win this game.

On the only drive where Los Angeles gained any traction in the 2nd half, Jimmie Ward was in great coverage of Cooper Kupp twice, but the star slot receiver just made two great catches.

Then, for the cherry on top, rookie Ambry Thomas, who was unfairly criticized early on, sealed the 49ers victory with a game-winning interception.

What an exhilarating game.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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